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Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 (2)

Carlsen and Aronian draw in second round of Zurich Classic

Magnus Carlsen against Levon Aronian. Photo ©

Magnus Carlsen against Levon Aronian. Photo © |

Leaders Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian shared a draw in 40 moves in the highlight of the second round of the Zurich Chess Classic. Hikaru Nakamura turned round an inferior position to a win with black against Viswanthan Anand. Fabiano Caruana stood much better with black against Boris Gelfand but after some missed chances it was he who had to hold on for the draw.

Carlsen and Aronian seemed in good spirits after their draw. Carlsen admitted he "tried to be smart in the opening. That didn't work." adding later that "Aronian is in top form. You can notice that he sees many options. I wish I had better chances to win today." In fact it was Aronian who was better and Carlsen who had to be accurate. Aronian talked about "the number of cheapos in the position" such as 17...Nd7 18.b6! and also said "did you comment on Magnus's 22.Bf3 preparing Nd6 cheapos everywhere? Otherwise black is just winning after 22...f5." "That's not a cheapo it's a beautiful trick" - Carlsen.

Carlsen admitted that 21.Bc3 was a defensive idea to prevent Ra5 and later 23.Bb4 was just about swapping some pieces as he entered time pressure. Carlsen was worried later on and Aronian agreed that "if I'm better it's only very little." and indeed he forced the draw with 32...Rxd3.

Hikaru Nakamura seemed to have a very comfortable advantage against Viswanathan Anand in a Berlin Defence but 15.d4? allowed Nakamura to launch a very dangerous king-side attack with the piece sacrifice 15...Nxh3+ which seemed to be at least enough and after 27...h5 Nakamura already felt he would find a way to win. 34...Rxe3 was a fine sacrifice that completely destroyed Anand's position. It's really quite hard to watch Anand playing like this.

Fabiano Caruana caught Boris Gelfand completely by surprise with the Leningrad Dutch and Gelfand's attempt to keep things under control by simplification had completely the opposite effect. 22.Bf1 seems like a mistake which would have lost a pawn if Caruana had played 24...Re4! which he spotted immediately afterwards. Caruana then drifted and lost a pawn but the resulting endgame didn't prove that hard to hold.

Round 2 Standings: Carlsen, Aronian, Nakamura 1.5pts/2, Caruana 1pt/2, Gelfand 0.5/2 and Anand 0/2. (Points will count double of those over in the Rapid on Tuesday)

Round 3 1st Feb 2014 2pm GMT: Aronian-Gelfand, Nakamura-Carlsen and Caruana-Anand.

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 Zurich SUI (SUI), 29 i-4 ii 2014 cat. XXIII (2801)
1 2 3 4 5 6
1. Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2872 * ½ . . 1 . 2987
2. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2812 ½ * . . . 1 3015
3. Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2789 . . * ½ . 1 2970
4. Caruana, Fabiano g ITA 2782 . . ½ * ½ . 1 2783
5. Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2777 0 . . ½ * . ½ 2634
6. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2773 . 0 0 . . * 0
Round 2 (January 31, 2014)
Carlsen, Magnus - Aronian, Levon ½-½ 40 A29 English Four Knights
Gelfand, Boris - Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ 56 A88 Dutch Leningrad
Anand, Viswanathan - Nakamura, Hikaru 0-1 36 C65 Ruy Lopez Berlin

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